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Woman at Castle Crags State Park
Bikers on the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Woman at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The Park Food Truck Hub in Redding, California
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Redding Garden of Lights: One for the Holiday Bucket List

By Ry Glover | 11/7/2022

Nothing says “getting in the Redding holiday spirit” quite like a trip to the Redding Garden of Lights at Turtle Bay’ Exploration Park. Part light show, part festive village, this dazzling display of lights and lighthearted mirth has become a hallmark of the holiday tradition in Redding in recent years. 

Located in the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, next to the iconic Sundial Bridge and Sacramento River, the Redding Garden of Lights is a must-have experience for the entire family.

Here are a few reasons why:

Redding’s Garden of Lights is more than just one million lights on display. It’s more than 10 acres of illumination. And it’s more than beautifully-synchronized light shows and tunnels of brightly-lit, brilliantly-arranged bulbs.

The Garden of Lights is a holiday tradition. The ultimate one, at that! It’s a place where families can enjoy a memorable experience together and where kids (and kids at heart) can revel in all things nostalgic and festive.

In less poetic terms, the Garden of Lights is just downright fun! It’s a wonderful time seeing your kids’ eyes light up when the lights light up. It’s exciting to walk across the famous Sundial Bridge at night. It’s cozy and comforting to sample a variety of holiday-themed drinks, gifts, and foods (including s’mores!). And it’s thrilling for kids and adults alike to walk down the winding paths and artfully illuminated displays of light exhibits.

Come for the lights, stay for the boundless bounty of holiday cheer. 

The light show is, of course, the main attraction. And for good reason! As you meander along the illuminated and animated paths, through the beautifully manicured grounds of the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, you’ll experience a world-class light show perfectly choreographed to holiday music. There are tunnels of lights that kids love running through. And the trees—sycamores, gray pines, valley oaks, and other riparian habitats—are elegantly wrapped in decorative lights, almost giving the flora new animated life.

When you’re done exploring and touring the Garden of Lights itself, the holiday village is a wonderful place to hang out with the family. Featuring fire pits and food trucks, the atmosphere feels like almost like an Old Europe holiday market. On the food front, you’ll find a delicious lineup of fresh baked pizzas, soups, grilled cheese sandwiches, and more. For drinks, the kids can have hot cocoa or apple cider, while parents can indulge in spiked hot beverages. And EVERYONE can indulge in s’mores, with individual s’more kits on sale and numerous fire pits.

In short, the Garden of Lights is about as feel-good as a Frank Sinatra Christmas album mixed with a movie marathon of A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and The Polar Express all wrapped up into one.

Put simply, everyone! 

Even the biggest Scrooge in your family will find something to love about the Redding Garden of Lights. If the twinkling lights and choreographed holiday music don’t do it for you, then the holiday village surely will—filled with food, campfires, Santa’s reindeer, and more.

Kids especially will get swept up in the magical experience. 

Conveniently located across the Sundial Bridge, just a five minute drive from downtown Redding, the Garden of Lights is an easy and easily unforgettable outing.

This year, the Garden of Lights will be available to the public from November 18 to January 8. It runs Wednesday through Sunday from 5 pm-9 pm during this time, and it will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Kids aged 0-4 can enter for free. Tickets for adults (16+) are $22, children (5-15) are $15, and Senior/Military/Vets are $15. 

Walking through the entire Garden of Lights takes about 45 minutes. But the memories will last a lifetime… or at least until next year’s visit! 

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